59°F
weather icon Clear

Golden Knights praised for building successful expansion team

Updated May 26, 2018 - 5:14 pm

Hey, Seattle, this wasn’t as easy as it looked.

The Golden Knights made it appear simple in building a team that has reached the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. But the Knights’ success was the result of meticulous planning and working within the parameters of a set of rules designed to give them a chance to be competitive.

Granted, nothing was guaranteed. No one forced teams to make side deals with general manager George McPhee that boomeranged on them. (Yes, you Florida, Minnesota and Columbus.)

But the consensus among NHL team owners and executives is things will be a little different when the time comes for Seattle to stock its franchise for the 2020-21 season. The league is expected to approve the city as its 32nd team at the Board of Governors meeting June 20 in Las Vegas.

“What’s happening in Vegas is great for the NHL,” Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold said. “Sure, Vegas had more favorable draft rules, but the real story is the coaching and makeup of this team. As a hockey fan, I love watching it.”

Paul Fenton, the Wild’s new general manager, said: “The expansion rules changed between Vegas and Nashville quite a bit, and it’s really interesting. I’m going to be curious to see how they change it even more when Seattle comes in in a couple of years.”

Leipold said: “I’ll be involved in that if I can. Trust me, it won’t happen again.”

Los Angeles Kings president Luc Robitaille also expects many teams to have a more cautious approach at the next expansion draft.

“I think a lot of GMs and a lot of executives will probably address the expansion draft differently next time,” he said. “I think a lot of teams were scared to lose some players who were making moves and ended up giving more than what they expected other than keeping that one guy, and I think it will be handled differently by everyone next time around.”

Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Norm Maciver agreed.

“I think teams will be more cognizant of the rules as it pertains to Seattle,” he said. “We all thought they’d get good players because we could only protect a certain amount of players. But no one saw this coming, making the finals in their first season.”

And while everyone is surprised to see the Knights playing for the Cup, nobody is begrudging the way they went about building their team.

“I do think it’s great for our league,” Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told NHL.com. “Las Vegas was awarded a franchise, and they paid a significant franchise fee to come into the league ($500 million). I think looking back, and I’m speaking a little bit out of turn here, but looking back at our league and the history of expansion, it’s tough in some of the markets that … if that team doesn’t have a chance for a few years, it’s tough to grow that fan base.

“The rest of the league, it was tough on us because we were losing good players, but I think (commissioner) Gary Bettman did the right thing. I don’t think anybody knew (the Knights) were going to be this competitive.”

John Davidson, Columbus’ president of hockey operations, said: “Through the expansion rules Vegas had a chance to get off to a successful start, and good for them. Now they’re playing for the Cup. That’s what dreams are made of.”

Davidson said the team has no regrets over exposing William Karlsson in the draft, even though he had a career season with 43 goals and 78 points as the Knights’ top centerman.

In the side deal with the Blue Jackets, the Knights drafted David Clarkson, which took his $5.25 million salary off Columbus’ books, then were allowed to draft Karlsson. They also got two draft picks.

“Good for Will. He’s a great kid,” Davidson said.

“Vegas’ timing was good. We were in a rebuild for five years, and we had turned the corner the year before. We had more good players than before, so we knew we would lose someone good.”

Fenton was the Nashville Predators’ assistant GM during the expansion draft, when the team lost veteran forward James Neal to the Knights.

“Different things happen for different reasons,” Fenton said. “We started preparing in Nashville for it, and it really affected some of our signings and what have you. It’s real easy to sit here now and throw stones and say this guy did this and this guy did that. We lost James Neal. We could have done something else to make it happen.

“I’ll never throw stones at anybody, it’s really hard to sit in this position. What (former Wild GM) Chuck (Fletcher) had to go through. I read a lot of stuff that’s saying he did the wrong thing. I look at it and say, ‘What would I have done?’ Well, I’m not gonna tell you what I would have done, but there’s a lot of people out there that don’t look like they made the right decision.”

Robitaille said everyone figured to lose a good player.

“We knew the night of the expansion draft they were going to be competitive,” he said. “You looked at the players that were available to them, and there was a lot of talent for them to pick from.

“George is a really smart guy. The team that’s still playing in Washington is the team he built. There’s a lot of players he brought in. You can see the type of general manager he is.”

More Golden Knights: Follow Golden Knights coverage at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Malcom Subban Day-To-Day, Gallant Talks Golden Knights' Goaltenders - VIDEO
After suffering an undisclosed lower body injury in a loss to the Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban was announced as having a day-to-day injury when head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about his goaltenders after practice.
Golden Knights lose 4-1 to Coyotes - VIDEO
The Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. VGK Goalie Malcolm Subban exited the game early with an injury and is Day-to-day.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant knows Coyotes are "very aggressive" - Video
The Golden Knights will head to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Thursday with hopes to bounce back from Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Bruins. Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is fully aware that the Coyotes are a very aggressive team and knows his guys will have to match that speed.
Golden Knights Feast on Shark - Video
After swimming with (and defeating) the Sharks in their first two games of the season, the entire Vegas Golden Knights team feasted on their fair share of seafood at Zuma Las Vegas inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Golden Knights Greet Fans At Gold Carpet - Video
The Golden Knights walk the gold carpet before puck drop at their season opener against the San Jose Sharks at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights Hold Private Practice, Lunch for 1 October First Responders - Video
The Golden Knights held a private practice at City National Arena for first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and guests who were affected by the 1 October events. After practice, guests were able to meet the Golden Knights themselves to take pictures and get autographs.
Golden Knights Prepare to Honor Those Affected by 1 October - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams upcoming practice which will honor those affected by the events on October 1, 2017. The team has invited guests including first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and others who were impacted. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon Discusses Roster Updates - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams roster and key injuries ahead of Opening Day (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Golden Knights Max Pacioretty on the Golden Edge Podcast - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty joins the Golden Edge podcast to talk about the upcoming season for the Knights, the rivalry with the Sharks and the Pacioretty 67 burger.
Golden Knights Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin Injured in Preseason Loss to Kings
The Golden Knights not only lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday night, the team also saw Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin head off the ice with injuries. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz give an update on the players injuries as well as discuss what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Preseason Loss to the Kings - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's second loss of the preseason, this time to the LA Kings 3-2. Head coach Gerard Gallant knows his team got off to a sloppy start but was impressed with the final effort.
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves wants to play in the pre-season - VIDEO
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves talks about coming back from an injury and a possible long term deal with the team. September 26, 2019.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gallant speaks on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant speaks after practice on September 26, 2019, on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games.
Golden Knights Suffer First Preseason Loss to Avalanche, 4-1 - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's first preseason loss, after falling to the Avalanche 4-1. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz break down what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights React to First Preseason Loss - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant called the first loss of the preseason a "team loss" that was "tough to watch."
Paul Stastny On Playing More Games - Video
Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny talks about preparing for the regular season and playing more games before the season starts.
Golden Knights Nate Schmidt Talks About Seeking Change With PED Testing - Video
The Golden Knights wrap up their practice for the day and Nate Schmidt hoping to see changes to PED testing.
Nate Schmidt On Wanting Change With PED Testing - Video
Nate Schmidt speaks about wanting to see change with PED testing in the NHL.
Fleury and Marchessault Play Heads Up - Video
Golden Knights Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault play heads up VGK edition.
Aliens Invade City National Arena for Competition
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
Golden Knights Continue Preseason Success with Win Over Avalanche - Video
The Golden Knights prospects are continuing to prove they are worthy of a starting position, this time with a shutout 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant Praises Prospects - Video
A day after the Golden Knights 6-2 preseason victory over the Arizona Coyotes, head coach Gerard Gallant discussed how impressed he is with the prospects, including defensemen Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan.
Golden Knights On First Preseason Win - Video
The Golden Knights talk about their first preseason win including Max Pacioretty's hat trick and putting Malcolm Subban as the goaltender for tonight's game.
Golden Knights Zamboni Lessons 101 - Video
The Golden Knights preseason tips off on Sunday, Sept. 15 and you know what that mean, it's time to roll out the zamboni! Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a zamboni operator for the Golden Knights? Golden Edge host Cassie Soto finds out!
Allegiant Unveils Golden Knights Plane - Video
Allegiant air officially unveils its new Golden Knights airbus that will take to the skies soon.
Golden Knights Rookie Camp: 3 Takeaways - Video
Vegas Golden Knights rookies took to the ice on Friday morning for practice at City National Arena. While the rookies mainly participated in drills, it was good to see the prospects get ice time. Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz discuss their three takeaways from the practice.
Golden Knights Host Charity Golf Classic - Video
The Golden Knights held its 2019 Charity Golf Classic on Wednesday at TPC Summerlin. Before teeing off, Golden Knights players Ryan Reaves, Jonathan Marchassault and Alex Tuch said who they thought were the worst and best golfers on their team.
Ryan Reaves performs wedding ceremony
Reverand Reavo makes his debut for one time only at the Chapel of Flowers for a get married by Ryan Reaves contest.
Vegas Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz on the Golden Edge Podcast
Review-Journal reporters Ben Gotz and David Schoen talk with Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz about his experiences with LeBron James, the team's new initiatives, a possible MLS expansion team and more.
THE LATEST